The Circle – Dave Eggers

18302455Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers

Publisher: Knopf
Published Date: 10/08/13

Blurb: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

My Review:
I never heard of this book before I saw the preview at the movies.  Immediately I knew that it was a book first though, the entire premise really had that ‘book’ feel, and I thought it was one that I would really, really like.  So as soon as I got home from the movies that night, I went and added myself to the wait list with the library.

What I Loved:  This book was just real enough to believe.  I continued to go back and forth between thinking, ‘no way…there is no way that so many people would be okay with this,’ and thinking ‘how far away from this are we now, really…not much.’  There were many aspects of the corporation that were very familiar, as there are things (on a much smaller scale) that my own corporation does (ie. onsite health clinic, badges that track where you are in the building, etc.).

Not So Much:  First of all, Mae was kind of a pushover.  She bought in to everything so easily.  I felt like she really had a hard time having her own thoughts.  In the moments when it seemed like she was falling into a more….reasonable thought process, something would happen or she would mentally talk herself out of it.

Second, as mentioned, I had a hard time thinking so many people would be okay with the kind of integration that The Circle was attempting.  Many times I had to remind myself that the perspective that we are getting in this book was dominantly an ‘inside The Circle’ view, and aside from a few minor characters – you don’t get any other perspective.

Third, I felt like the ending was a huge let down.

The Verdict:  If you like the series “Black Mirror” this book is for you.  Like 110%, you’re going to love it.  I didn’t care for the series, and I was very luke-warm about this book.  This book is an adult book, and it has adult scenes.

Ever the Hunted – Erin Summerill

28114396Title: Ever the Hunted
Author: Erin Summerill

Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published Date: 12/27/2016

Blurb: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

My Review:
I’m not even sure what the allure of a book set in a place with no technology, bows and knives are hunting tools and trade is the best source of commodity is, but I am always drawn to them.  Throw in a strong female lead, and I’m usually game! Plus I really love that cover.

What I Loved:  This story unraveled at a very nice pace, and had the flavor of a fairy-tale, which falls right into my current Beauty and the Beast mode as it is.  I enjoyed that there were bits of magic interwoven throughout this story; you know that Britta is special, but it really isn’t fully unveiled until much later just how much, and then it maintains a bit of a ‘witch hunt’ atmosphere. I felt like the pace of this book moved along smoothly, yet didn’t skimp on the background either.  I honestly thought that I was reading a stand alone because of all the detail and the way the whole thing was unraveling.

I loved the relationship between Britta and Cohen’s friendship/relationship.  Of course there is the attraction between them which is kept at a sizzle most of the time, but they also bicker and get on each other’s nerves, just the way you would expect old friends to do.  They protect each other, even in moments when they don’t seem to be on the same side of the fence.

Britta’s captors were an interesting mix of people.  I did like that not all of them were mean/evil-natured, but that despite her circumstance, she had a friend as well.

Not So Much:  So the first, and probably most common mistake of any book relationship – the relationship between Britta and Cohen could have been set to rights by conversing. Even when there was this big secret being held, there was so much talking that could have been done, instead there were long pauses and assumptions the entire time…it got old very quickly.

Second, I thought I was reading a stand alone, even though I sort of knew I wasn’t at the same time.  This kind of book ALWAYS is part of a series.  But I’m very unpleased with the way this one ended, and I’m not even sure I want to continue.  It will take some good reviews and research on my part, because I’m not sure I can handle another book of no talking and secrets that are the biggest source of drama throughout the book.

The Verdict: I’m iffy on this.  I liked it a lot, but there were issues that make me hesitant to continue.  The book was clean and appropriate for YA.

Deja Revu – Week of 04/03/17

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
Picture

Meme

Picture

Contemporary

Fantasy

General Fiction

Paranormal

Romance

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Romance

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Romance

Hunted – Meagan Spooner

24485589Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published Date: March 14, 2017

Blurb: Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Review:
Beauty and the Beast has always been, and likely will always be my favorite fairytale.  I have loved it from the moment the first Disney movie came out back when I was a kid.  I remember being enchanted by the story, and then again when all the reports came out about all the details of on the graphics and all the work that went into the finite details (anyone else remember the over-description of that amazing chandelier?) I was enchanted again by the work that went into making the movie I loved.  As I grew up I came to love the story and it’s many forms.  In fact, recently my family and I were at a bookstore, and naturally they had a display dedicated to Beauty and the Beast, and I pointed out all of the books on that display I had already read.  I’m pretty sure it was 7 out of the 10 options.  At least one of the options was a book that was just a graphic replica of the movie (of which I have no desire to read).  Another of the books was Hunted, and I have now added it to my list…

What I Loved:  While this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this book was its own story.  So many different elements and theories were poured into this rendition, it was so lovely to see the story through a different lens.  Only the trace outline of the story that is so familiar existed in this rendition.

My absolute favorite part about this book, for the very first time this story opened my eyes to a new reality in all of the Beauty and the Beast tales, and I’m not sure why I haven’t seen it before.  Most (Disney) stories are about a Princess who needs rescued.  And yes, there are many of the newer movies where this reoccurrence has been dropped to have the strong female lead, but I think we all forget to look at Beauty in this light.  In fact, the roles are completely reversed and it has always been Beast that needs rescued. There is a scene in which one of Yeva’s (Beauty’s) sisters point out, [paraphrased quote] “you are not a knight in shining armor riding off to defeat the enemy and rescue the princess,” but is she not?  Does she not break the spell releasing the Beast from his curse…in the many retellings, this is done mostly the same way.  This book is unique in the curse and it’s ways, but the concept is still there.

The conclusion, and Yeva’s self evaluation though, beautifully done.

Not So Much: I felt like it took a little while to really get into the thick of this story.  While most of the first few chapters are story and character building, I felt it moved slow.  But once I got through the beginning the real story, the one I was anxious to get to, reeled me in really quick.

Due to Yeva’s skill sets and the title being “Hunted” and all, I did long for a bit more action as well.

The Verdict: I will be adding a hard-copy of this book to my shelf. I loved it. There are many words I really wanted to share in this review, however so many of the things I wanted to discuss could have been viewed as spoilery, simply because the best part about this book is going in knowing it’s basically a retelling, but not really knowing the story at all.  As all the parts of it start to become clear – THIS is the joy in this book! Hunted is very YA friendly, and a familiar story beautifully re-imaged.

Deja Revu – Week of 03/27/17

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Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
Picture

Original

Meme

Picture

Contemporary

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic

Fantasy

Paranormal

Romance

Picture

Fantasy

General Fiction

Horror

Non-Fiction

Romance

Science Fiction

A Million Junes – Emily Henry

30763950Title: A Million Junes
Author: Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Blurb: In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

My Review:
This is the first book I’ve ever read from the First To Read program.  If you’re a blogger, you should check it out!   Anyhow, anytime I get a book that I am pretty much ‘required’ to review, I get nervous.  What if I don’t like it? What if it’s so bad I don’t want to finish it?  I pretty much enjoy being in a non-committed relationship with books; reading what I want and specifically NOT reading when I don’t want.  So I was a little apprehensive when I downloaded this book and started it.  Let me just say, my fears were 120% unfounded, from the very beginning I was absorbed into this book.

What I Loved:  A Million Junes is one of those books that in its own way, unfolds in multiple timelines while maintaining a consistent current timeline. It’s different than other books like it, because even on those multiple timelines, the time period can be pretty fluid.  You jump in and out of the story at a variety of points.  I’m hoping this isn’t considered a ‘spoiler’ because I wanted to bring it up to point out that there was not one point throughout this story where I was confused.  I find this pretty much amazing!

There is so much to really enjoy about this book, the friendship between June and her best friend Hannah for starters.  Their friendship seemed so real, and exactly how you would expect a senior in high school friendship to be.  It wasn’t too over-the-top teenagery, but they also behaved in a way that seemed appropriate for their age.  Again, I think that this is something that many authors struggle with, the characters tend to end up feeling too over the top in the rebellious teenage direction or way too mature for their age.

I enjoyed June and Saul’s relationship – the way it unfolded naturally, it wasn’t all heat and passion, but a slow moving thing that they felt around and pushed, pulled and formed it into something real.  It was perfect, specifically because of its forbidden element.  The blurb sort of compares it to Romeo and Juliet, but it’s not a retelling at all.  I loved that do not rush headlong into something, but really take time to evaluate each other and make the best decisions they can on their own.

So while all of those things are good, the best part of this book is the mystery, the curse, and the unwinding of information.  The flow of the words coming off the pages is intoxicating in itself.  This was a most excellently written piece of art!

Not So Much:  Some of the minor characters – specifically the creative writing teacher – and their motives I didn’t quite get, honestly.  I can understand, I suppose, needing another antithesis/pushing point, but at the same time I think that goal could easily have been accomplished without the additional character, or attempting to play up her importance.  She was a bit oxymoron-ish as a character as well, she seemed to serve a dual – almost conflicting – purpose in my opinion.  Anyhow, this is about the only kind of/sort of not wonderful thing I can say about this book.  I’d say that’s pretty good!

The Verdict:  I am in love with this book.  It was fantastic…if you couldn’t tell that’s what I thought already.  It’s a YA, very clean and tidy, and yet, nothing more was needed to make it…more.  If you like a lyrical style of writing, and settings that are kind of blurry in nature, very fluid and changing – this book is definitely for you, and if you don’t, I still implore you to give it a chance!

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from FirstToRead.com; other than the joy of reading – I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

All Laced Up – Erin Fletcher

32057113Title: All Laced Up
Author: Erin Fletcher

Series: Breakaway #1

Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Publication Date: October 10, 2016

Blurb: When the two are forced to teach a skating class to save the rink, Lia’s not sure she’ll survive the pressure of Nationals and Pierce’s ego. Not only can’t he remember her name, he signed her bottle of water like she was one of his groupies. Ugh.

But if there’s one thing Lia knows better than figure skating, it’s hockey. Hoping to take his ego down a notch—or seven—she logs into his team website under an anonymous name to give him pointers on his less-than-stellar playing.

Turns out, Pierce isn’t arrogant at all. And they have a lot in common. Too bad he’s falling for the anonymous girl online. No matter how much fun they’re starting to have in real life, she’s afraid he’s going to choose fake-Lia over the real one…

My Review: 
All Laced Up fell right in line with the YA Romance novels I have been reading lately, and it was recommended to me a long time ago –  so I decided it was next up on the list.  I fall into patterns, like most of us do of course, but also I choose these straight up YA-Fiction/Romances a lot because the escape I’m looking for is one that is simple, easy, sucks me into the story and out of reality.  Likewise, I tend to stay away from heavy books because life is so heavy on its own.  I know usually there are really great stories in them, and I would love them, HAVE loved them, if and when I read them – but I kind of have to be ready for it, you know.  Mentally I have to want to be in that place.  But, I digress…I fall into patterns, and some other patterns I fall in to tend to be sports themed romances, or fairy tales, or even dystopians or girlpower books.  Historical romances as well, maybe even a little bit of steampunk thrown in there.

What I Loved:  This is exactly what I was looking for, when I started reading.  Sweet romance, sweet characters; some but little conflict and a sappy smile at the end.  I always enjoy reading a little bit about the sports, and the passion that the characters have for their chosen sport.  A lot of times it makes me want to try it myself.  Not this time though, I don’t think I’d do very well with hockey!

I really loved how Pierce actually was pretty much as oblivious to Lia as she thought that he was, though she really went through lengths to make sure it was true for him and many others.  However, when he laughed about the whole water bottle story, that sealed it for me; I pretty much loved him from that point on.  He was this small-town superstar that had no idea he was embodying two different personalities.  Lia was as well, so the whole online persona thing was a fun way to bring this all together.

But my favorite moment between Lia and Pierce is when they skate together.  ONE TIME they skate together, that is weird to me since they are both skaters…but what a fun, YA/Teenagey scene!!!  Books need more fun and laughter and play and a little less of the wall-to-wall seriousness.

Not So Much:  This was another book where you can pretty much predict everything from the moment you pick up the book.  That is okay.  I mean I wanted a simple fun read, that’s what I got.  But I do love it when the author throws me for a loop now and then.  Also, we got ONE really good moment where Pierce blocks Lia in his arms in the ice ring, I kind of wish he had a little bit more of that in him.

The Verdict:  Another winner for me!  I’ll be searching out more of Erin’s books when I need that silly smile of a happy book for sure.  This book was perfect for YA’s – I wouldn’t mind if my 12 year old daughter read it.